NCAAF · Sat (9/18) @ 3:30pm ET
|Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa|
Our Pick: KENT Kent State at Under 56.0 (-112). Claim your $1,000 risk-free bet at WynnBET.
Iowa has been one of college football’s most impressive teams in 2021, rising to No. 5 in the nation in the AP poll. The Hawkeyes posted a lopsided home win over nationally-ranked Indiana and then went into Ames last Saturday and took out Iowa State in the first-ever matchup between the in-state rivals where both were ranked in the Top 10.
The common denominator in both Iowa wins has been its ability to force turnovers. The Hawkeyes picked off three Michael Penix, Jr. passes and corner Riley Moss turned two into pick-sixes in a Week 1 34-6 rout. They intercepted Iowa State star QB Brock Purdy three times and scored on a forced fumble in last Saturday’s 27-17 upset over the Cyclones as a 4-point road underdog.
If you’re scoring at home, Iowa’s defense has three touchdowns over two games, keeping pace with an offense that has found the end zone four times. The Hawkeyes offense hasn’t looked all that impressive through two games since QB Spencer Petras has been tasked with simply not turning the ball over and recognizing protections, but Iowa has trailed for less than eight minutes through the first two games (3-0 early vs. Iowa State).
Kent State Arrives In Iowa City Looking to Surprise
The Golden Flashes play in the Mid-American Conference, which is rated as the worst of the FBS leagues now that the Sun Belt has made such great progress. The MAC is the only league without a 2-0 team. Of course, MAC programs can still be dangerous, as Notre Dame found out in nearly being upset by Toledo this past weekend. The Fighting Irish trailed the Rockets with under two minutes remaining and narrowly avoided an upset as a 17-point favorite thanks to a late TD pass from Jack Coan to tight end Michael Mayer.
Kent State arrives in Iowa City as a 23-point underdog and unlike Toledo, isn’t expected to compete for the MAC title. It took a swing at a Power-5 program on Sept. 4 and lost 41-10 at Texas A&M, but the game was closer than the final score indicates.
The Golden Flashes trailed just 10-3 at the break before being dominated in the second half and missed a pair of short field goals in failing to cover as a 28.5-point underdog. QB Dustin Crum threw for just 89 yards against the Aggies but Kent State did manage to run for 226 yards in the contest.
Last week, Kent State obliterated FCS member VMI 60-10, building a 53-3 lead through three quarters. Seven different Golden Flashes scored on touchdown runs, including both quarterbacks, Crum and Collin Schlee. Second-year freshman Marquez Cooper is the youngest of Kent State’s backs but the most explosive, while Xavier Williams is similarly built and gets lots of carries. The bangers are 240-pound Bryan Bradford and 230-pound Joachim Bangura.
Crum, an aerospace engineering major, was first-team All-MAC at quarterback last season and is considered a pro prospect. Despite his presence, Iowa will likely get a heavy dose of the Golden Flashes run game as they look to keep possession and stay in this game as long as possible. Crum’s top target is Syracuse transfer Nykeim Johnson, who is small at 5-foot-8 but has good speed and is a solid route runner. The Kent State offensive line is led by Kansas State transfer Bill Kuduk at left tackle and has gotten excellent results despite the team coming in just 1-1 on the season.
Full Iowa Vs. Kent State Odds
Iowa Looks To Avoid Letdown After Emotional Win
The Hawkeyes defeated Iowa State for a sixth straight time and a seventh occasion in eight tries, but the game was still physical and filled with ups and downs. It was only the second time Iowa was listed as an underdog over its past 14 games dating back to 2019, and it has now won in both those instances, having defeated Wisconsin in the 2020 regular-season finale as a 2-point ‘dog.
The Hawkeyes have Colorado State coming into town next week and will be heavily favored in that game as well, so there’s not a lot of danger in Iowa looking ahead if you’re interested in laying the points. The team opens October with a trip to Maryland, which has looked sharp to start the season. They’ll then host Penn State on Oct. 9 in what should be one of the biggest games of the Big Ten season before playing their Homecoming game against Purdue the next week on Oct. 16.
Kent State’s corners, Elvis Hines and Montre Miller, team with LB Mandela Lawrence-Burke to form the strength of the team on defense, so Petras may be back in game manager mode. The Golden Flashes lead the nation with eight interceptions while Iowa ranks second with six, so we might see a heavy dose of the ground game. Top running back Tyler Goodson has scored in both Hawkeyes’ wins this season and should again be in for a heavy workload.
Iowa is the only team in the country with wins over two Top-20 teams so this will be a test of its focus and killer instinct considering how heavily favored it is.
Petras is just 24-for-48 for 251 yards and a touchdown thus far, but this figures to be another game where he isn’t asked to do much. Charlie Jones is emerging as the No. 1 receiver, but Iowa really isn’t loaded at wideout the way they are at tight end, which makes establishing a consistent passing game a challenge.
For that reason, the call here is to expect a low-scoring game between the Hawkeyes and Golden Flashes. Kent State likes to push tempo despite the fact it runs the ball so often out of its spread formation, but Iowa has a tendency to slow every team it faces down. The total at DraftKings is set at 56.5, which is the most popular number on the board early in the week.
The Hawkeyes have seen the ‘under’ prevail in each of their first two games despite the number being placed in the mid-40’s. Look for the low side to cash in this contest as well.